Hotelier Neil Kirby is taking on his 30th and final marathon next Sunday, 35 years after completing his first under the watchful eye of then boss Sir Rocco Forte.
Forte had advised Kirby to take up running and sponsored him for the Manchester Picadilly Marathon in 1981. Forte then decided to join him in taking on the London Marathon in 1982.
Now pushing 64, Kirby says this will be his last London Marathon, which he will undertake with Simon Brown, the hotel manager at Kirby's Langham Hotel.
In his 49th year in the hospitality industry, Kirby is not yet ready to hang up his trainers. He will keep running half marathons and is considering an attempt on the 100m record for a veteran. "Usain Bolt can do it in 9.58 seconds, but the record for someone aged 65 is around 12.77 seconds," he said. "I'm happy to try and beat that!"
Kirby has raised £300,000 for charity over the years and this year he and Brown aim to raise £3,000 for Paget's Disease, a painful bone condition. But he says the benefit is mutual and advises anyone in hospitality to take up running, as he often does with staff along Eastbourne seafront.
"I would encourage everyone who works in hotels and restaurants to run," says Kirby. "It helps staff bond as a team and it reduces your waistline. If only it could reduce the VAT bill as well, I would be a happy man!"
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